On a night where the Ole Miss offense couldn’t avoid the dreaded turnovers, the Rebel defense bowed up to shut down the visiting Memphis Tigers for a 24-3 victory on a beautiful Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“Our kids showed great resolve and I’m extremely proud of our defense,” said Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, whose birthday was Saturday. “We haven’t had a better effort than that in our two and a half years here. They were phenomenal, and Memphis is a team that has been putting up really good numbers.”
Ole Miss (4-0) recognized the M-Club Class of 2014 at halftime, and celebrated the career and life of former player Chucky Mullins, after renaming Coliseum Drive in his honor on Friday. It was fitting then that the defense was led by linebacker Deterrian Shackelford, the only two-time recipient of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. Shackelford, who wears the No. 38 jersey in Mullins’ honor, led the Rebels with eight total tackles, including four solo tackles and one tackle for loss.
“Chucky would have been proud of the helmets and particularly, how the defense played,” Freeze said. “He would have loved that. We’ll continue to honor his character traits: his selflessness and his attitude about life and against adversity.”
The Rebels allowed just 104 total yards the entire evening, including 23 rushing yards on 31 carries. Excluding one 42-yard pass play by Memphis (2-2) in the first quarter, the Rebel defense allowed just 62 total yards on the other 61 plays from scrimmage.
Sophomore Tony Conner and junior Denzel Nkemdiche each had two tackles for loss, while junior C.J. Johnson, freshman Marquis Haynes, senior Bryon Bennett and senior Lavon Hooks each had a sack. Haynes also forced a fumble, which junior Issac Gross recovered, and junior Trae Elston recorded an interception.
The Ole Miss offense generated 426 total yards, but 10 penalties for 117 yards, four turnovers and two missed field goals limited its final score. Sophomore wide receiver Laquon Treadwell had five catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns, while junior running back Jaylen Walton had 10 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown. Senior quarterback Bo Wallace finished 22-37 for 248 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ole Miss opened the game’s scoring on a 63-yard strike from Wallace to Treadwell with 12:01 remaining in the first quarter. The first quarter ended with the Rebels leading just 7-3 though, as Memphis hit a 40-yard field goal with 2:51 remaining.
The Rebels didn’t get on the board again until the fourth quarter, but they scored 17 points in the final frame to stretch their lead out to 21 points. Following a 19-yard field goal from senior Andrew Fletcher, Walton ran 23 yards to pay dirt, and Treadwell caught a 17-yard pass in the back of the end zone with 1:18 remaining.
Ole Miss will now turn its attention to a highly anticipated matchup against No. 3 Alabama on Oct. 4, where the popular ESPN college football pregame show “College GameDay” built by the Home Depot will visit Oxford for the first time in its history. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by CBS.
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–Ole Miss Sports Information
No.10 Ole Miss Tops Memphis 24-3 with Strong Defensive Stand
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